Extraordinary Lives Foundation (ELF) 2nd annual Comedy Night for Children’s Mental Health & Wellness.
On, February 26, 2020 we held our second annual Comedy Night Fundraiser at the Irvine Improv in Orange County, CA. Over 300 guests attended to support our mission of improving children’s mental health and wellness in a BIG way by generating more than $55K.
Attendees were greeted by dozens of energetic and cheerful volunteers offering “high-fives” for mental health outside the Irvine Spectrum Center, setting the tone for what was to be a super fun and spirited experience during the event. Once inside, guests enjoyed cocktails, appetizers and a fun display of over 75 silent auction items. Donations for the auction were received by the Anaheim Ducks, Tillys, South Coast Plaza, Morton’s Steakhouse, Milari Jewelry, Dublin4, The Cheesecake Factory, Irvine Spectrum Marriott, Oak Grill Aqua Lounge, Cycle Bar and many other health and wellness related items.
ELF Founder and CEO, Mara James, greeted the enthusiastic crowd and introduced the hilarious event host, comedian Francis Dilorinzo. The program began with multiple children’s performances by Center Stage Studio. Mental health advocate Adrienne Matros and Mimi Kahn with Families Forward shared background while Tamara Johnston gave an emotional parent testimonial that involved bullying and death threats toward her three-year daughter at school.
Singer Kim Gubner then performed the inspiring Piggie Bear song, “You are Amazing!” Attendees joined in the Piggie Bear’s “I am Amazing!” chorus by singing; You are amazing, I am amazing, We are amazing, Exactly as we are!
Featured comedians Eric Deskin, Julie Kidd and headliner Andrew Norelli delighted attendees with three very entertaining comedy skits. The evening concluded with a lively Empower-a-Child Campaign and closing remarks by Dilorinzo.
Mara was ecstatic with the turn out and proceeds saying, “I am extremely grateful for all supporters, volunteers and major sponsors including Tilly’s Life Center, Reproductive Fertility Center, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Adrienne & Rick Matros, Laguna Beach OBGYN, Inc. and Each Mind Matters. We truly could not have succeeded without your support!”
Event proceeds will be used to purchase and donate “The Power of Piggie Bear” book and the Piggie Bear plush to organizations including CHOC Children’s Hospital, Human Options, Laura’s House, The Family Care Center Shelter (Mercy House) and to children in foster and military families.
Our team was particularly grateful to host the event just before the health pandemic hit. We didn’t realize at the time that our programs would later help children manage their fear and anxiety through these very unusual, uncertain and challenging times.
Mara created and wrote "The Power of Piggie Bear," ELF’s first therapeutic tool to improve the mental health and wellness of young children by developing their emotional intelligence. The Piggie Bear character teaches children self-care techniques for dealing effectively with their emotions.
According to Adrienne Matros, Psy.D, “Piggie Bear is an adorable character that helps teach young children that we are all unique. Piggie Bear identifies and encourages acceptance of a range of emotions as well as demonstrates ways to breathe and express those emotions. Every child should have a Piggie Bear to love.”
In addition to the Comedy Night Fundraiser, ELF has hosted awareness events at Major League Baseball stadiums during May, Mental Health Awareness Month. Starting locally at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and Petco Park in San Diego, ELF expanded nationally and organized similar events at Yankees Stadium in New York and SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
About Extraordinary Lives Foundation
Our mission is to promote children’s mental health and wellness and support families by providing awareness, education, and resources. We encourage families to recognize symptoms, overcome the stigma and reach out for help. Through prevention, early intervention and holistic treatment, we believe many of the big problems facing today’s youth can be transformed within a generation.